Bat surveys Britten Pears Foundation

Bat surveys at the former home of Benjamin Britten, Suffolk

Client: Stanton Williams; Davis Langdon; Britten-Pears Foundation

Objective: Protection of bat roosts and watching brief during development

The Red House in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, former home of musicians Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears from 1957, was the site of exciting improvements to complement a new archive housing Britten’s internationally significant collections, as part of centenary celebrations in 2013.

The task

Bat surveys undertaken by The Ecology Consultancy in 2009 at an adjacent property, the site of which was proposed for a new archive centre, revealed the presence of roosting pipistrelles and brown long-eared bats. During the surveys, a substantial amount of bat activity was also recorded in the grounds of The Red House suggesting the presence of a large pipistrelle roost nearby. Further investigation revealed that staff were aware of a bat roost above one of the bedrooms of The Red House.

In 2010, following the revision of plans for the archive centre, we were subsequently engaged by Davis Langdon to undertake a full inspection of some of the buildings and habitats on The Red House site. These included Red Cottage and the Library Complex and as a result of our work at the site, we were later commissioned to undertake further surveys and a watching brief  during the development. The archive centre went on to win several awards including RIBA National and Regional Awards 2014, as well as Excellence in Design and Civic Trust Awards.

In 2015, six years after our first involvement at the site, we were commissioned by the Britten-Pears Foundation to undertake a building inspection of The Red House itself, ahead of necessary timber treatment in the roof spaces. The treatment needed to be completed before the property opened to the public in early spring. We were able to confirm the presence of a well-established maternity colony of soprano pipistrelles and provide sound advice for the treatment of deathwatch beetle and woodworm in a manner than was sympathetic to the bats roosting there. Our recommendations included appropriate timing and use of non-toxic chemical applications.

The outcome

Our Walkover Survey found good connectivity between the site and nearby semi-natural habitats, including grazing marshes, woodland and scrub. We conducted the full suite of surveys for protected species. The building inspection of Red Cottage and Library Complex resulted in bat surveys which revealed the presence of five bat roosts, including those of long-eared bats, within the lofts of both buildings.

Further inspections, including a dawn bat survey and watching brief accompanied works to install new dormer window on Red Cottage.

Photo credit: Philip Vile

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